December 08, 2022, 06:45:13 PM
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Topic: I have an interesting chemistry challenge from the 13th century  (Read 2031 times)

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medievalistsnet

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Hi everyone - I am a medieval historian and I writing a conference paper about a recipe in a 13th-century work known as The Book of Charlatans. The recipe says it is for making weapons better. Here is the translation: "Take equal parts of oleander and basil and pound them till they reach the consistency of a liquid. To this add colocynth oil and then boil the lot till it's reduced to one quarter." After this you heat a weapon and then quench it slowly in this liquid.

So my question for anyone here is what do you think these ingredients - oleander, basil and colocynth oil - are actually doing? How could this recipe change the sword?

Offline Corribus

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Re: I have an interesting chemistry challenge from the 13th century
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2022, 11:02:08 AM »
Well I cant speak for the other two but oleander is highly toxic and has been used as a poison for ages. IIRC oleandrin is a potent cardiotoxin.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline dorawexpected

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Re: I have an interesting chemistry challenge from the 13th century
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2022, 08:35:39 AM »
Well I cant speak for the other two but oleander is highly toxic and has been used as a poison for ages. IIRC oleandrin is a potent cardiotoxin.

I agree with you. Maybe it makes sense. If it's poison, you might dip your sword, and any wound will be fatal to the enemy

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